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Veterans Center Named for Admiral Vern Clark Dedicated at Evangel University

Evangel University dedicated the Admiral Vern Clark Veterans Center on March 24. Clark, the former U.S. Chief of Navy Operations, spoke at the dedication of the center, which is provided to honor and assist students who are veterans.

A dedication ceremony was held on March 24 for the Admiral Vern Clark Veterans Center at Evangel University in Springfield, Missouri.

The Center is located on the first floor of the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary (AGTS), on the campus of Evangel.

Admiral Clark is the retired Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) for the U.S. Navy, having served in that position and on the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 2000-2005. He is the second-longest serving CNO in history.

Clark is also a 1967 graduate of Evangel.

"Anytime someone wants to support our veterans, I am going to stand up and cheer," said Clark in relation to his appearance at the dedication service. "It is so wonderful to live in a time when veterans are appreciated."

The son of an AG minister, Admiral Clark started as a Lieutenant of a patrol gunboat and worked his way up to command of three ships, two destroyer squadrons, the Atlantic Fleet's Anti-Submarine Warfare Training Center, a Carrier Battle Group, the Second Fleet, NATO's Striking Fleet and the U.S. Atlantic Fleet prior to his appointment as CNO.

The Marine Corps color guard unit from the Armed Forces Reserve Center in Springfield and the Airlifter Brass quintet from Scott Air Force Base (Illinois) opened the ceremony with a salute to our country's different military branches and the many veterans in attendance at the ceremony.

Former U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft delivered the dedication address. Ashcroft worked closely with Admiral Clark during his years as CNO.

"It is fabulous that Evangel University has taken this step to say to veterans, 'We want to support your needs,'" said Clark. "This center sends a message about how much Evangel appreciates the service of our military members. I am grateful that this is a veteran-friendly institution."

The Veterans Center opened its doors to Evangel and AGTS veteran students in the summer of 2014. Between EU and AGTS there are approximately 96 students/dependents who are using their veteran benefits.

"Some of our students are transitioning to civilian life, and some will return to the military. Our goal is to make either process as smooth as possible," said Dr. Dale Garrett, associate professor of government at Evangel and faculty advisor to the Student Veterans Association.

Garrett is a retired Lt. Col. (USAF) and a three-time Air Force Squadron Commander.

"The vision for this center is to equip veterans during their university experience for academic excellence, spiritual empowerment, and future success," he said.

That equipping comes in various ways, including helping veterans keep track of required federal paperwork, connecting them with upperclassmen who can familiarize them with the university, and offering a comfortable place in which they can relax.

"Sometimes these men and women need to get away from the crowds," said Chaplain Stormy Davis, coordinator of veterans services at Evangel. "This is designed to be a safe, warm, and welcoming place, where they can meet with fellow vets, or just study in peace."

Davis is a 2009 graduate of Evangel and a 2014 graduate of AGTS.

AGTS has a long history of training military chaplains. Currently, more than 180 AGTS alumni are serving as chaplains in the Armed Forces and Veterans Administration, and about 30 students are preparing for chaplaincy.

The Center was made possible by generous donations of Jack Weimer and the Student Advisory Council at AGTS. For additional information, contact Evangel University.  

Pictured: Dr. Byron Klaus (left), president of AGTS, presents a sculpture representing Christ's love for the soldier to Admiral Vern Clark during the dedication of the Veterans Center

Photo credit: Paul K. Logsdon, Evangel University